For Bulls To Go On, Boozer Cannot Be A Loser
So our Chicago Bulls are in the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in 13 years. 13 YEARS. I was a senior in college the last time this happened. I wish that didn’t seem as long ago as it does but, alas….
The best part of this situation is there is no doubt that this is a team that can go far in the playoffs. This is a team that can possibly do what that team in 1998 did. This team could win a NBA championship. However, if a certain Bull keeps playing like he did in the opening round, I wouldn’t count on it. That Bull’s name is Carlos Boozer.
Going into the Pacers’ series, all I heard about was the great match up in the post Carlos would have against Tyler Hansbrough. This was a match up of which the Bulls and Boozer could take full advantage, and one I personally looked forward to seeing, mostly due to my profound hatred for the one they call ‘Psycho T’. So what did Carlos do with this favorable advantage? Well let’s take a look at his playoff statistics through the first round, with their respective postseason ranks in parentheses.
Points – 10.0 (63rd)
Field Goal % – 35.8 (134th)
Rebounds – 10.2 (10th)
Blocks – .6 (44th)
Outside of his very solid rebounding, Boozer’s been pathetic. Even Bulls’ TV analyst and fan favorite Stacey King repeatedly lamented the lackluster play and bad decisions of our starting power forward, constantly wondering why Boozer continued to settle for 17 foot jump shots or kicking the ball back out to the perimeter after receiving it with good position in the paint. I’ve never seen Boozer miss so many easy put backs inside, or look so awkward while executing his usually stellar post moves. This was a guy that shot 51% in the regular season averaging 17.5 points a game, embarrassing himself against an under-matched Tyler Hansbrough (or an equally average Jeff Foster). So what happened??
My only guess is that the hard-nosed (some might call dirty) play of the Pacers’ front court trio of Hansbrough, Foster, and Josh McRoberts flustered Boozer. He knew he was expected to capitalize on his match ups underneath and when he stumbled early, he over-compensated and over-thought his moves. In short, all the hard fouls and trash talking got in his head (as evidenced by his recurring foul trouble and incessant whining over every foul called on him) . If this is the case, we may be in trouble. This is Boozer’s 5th straight year in the postseason! He is no stranger to the raised level of play and increased physicality that the playoffs entail. As a matter of fact, his numbers in past playoffs seem to indicate that he thrives under such conditions. In his past four playoff campaigns he’s averaged 20 ppg and 12.7 reb, while shooting 50.2% from the field, all in a much more formidable Western Conference. So how could 3 scrubs from an under .500 Pacer team rattle our prized free agent acquisition so easily?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that question. But if the Bulls hope to return to the glory of 1998, I certainly hope they do.
P.S. It has come to this blogger’s attention that some incorrect information was given at the beginning of this submission. The Bulls made the second round of the playoffs in 2007, losing 4-2 to Detroit.
Photo Source (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)